Not all crashes are created equal: Associations between the built environment and disparities in bicycle collisions

Jesus M. Barajas


Historically disadvantaged populations are disproportionately represented in bicycle crashes. Previous research has found that Black and Hispanic bicyclists and areas with higher populations of non-White residents, lower median income, and high poverty experience bicycle crashes more frequently than others. Although existing research has explored the role of socioeconomic status and the built environment in predicting crash frequency, few scholars have studied how these factors account for disparities along racial and ethnic lines. Using a database of 7,088 bicycle crashes over a three-year period in the San Francisco Bay Area, this study examines the influence of socioeconomic, transportation, and land-use characteristics as potential causes of differences in bicycle crash occurrences among racial and ethnic groups in the San Francisco Bay Area. While areas of high poverty and high land-use intensity are associated with higher numbers of bicycle crashes overall, lower-traffic streets and bicycle infrastructure do not affect the frequency of crashes involving Black and Hispanic cyclists. Black bicyclists have a disproportionate risk of being involved in a crash in poor urban neighborhoods, controlling for other factors. These findings draw attention to the need for planners to consider how socioeconomic differences and vulnerability at the neighborhood level play a role in safety.

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